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Published On: Thu, Jan 27th, 2022

How Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Indiana?

First, you have to understand whether you have a case or not. This will involve a conversation about the Indiana law of “torts”.

Torts are wrongful acts, not involving contracts, that cause harm to others. Personal injuries, such as those caused by car accidents, are the most-common torts, and the easiest to resolve. Lawsuits for torts are separate from criminal cases that might be filed by the government for the same events. In a tort case, you, as the injured party, claim compensation for your injuries.

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photo/ witwiccan

Substantive Law of Personal Injury in Indiana

For you to successfully make a personal injury claim in Indiana, you must prove the following four facts:

  • That the defendant owed you a duty (for example, the duty to obey traffic laws while driving on public roads in Indiana);
  • That the defendant breached such duty (for example, failing to stop at a traffic light or failing to obey speed limits);
  • That defendant’s breach of duty was the legal cause of your injury; and
  • Your injuries (which may be numerous) are significant and measurable and can be compensated in a lawsuit.

Procedural Laws Affecting Personal Injury Claims in Indiana

In addition to knowing what facts you must prove to succeed in your personal injury claim, attorneys also know ‘how’ you must bring your case, and ‘when’ and ‘where’ you must take action. The how/when/where of your lawsuit are governed by Indiana’s law of civil procedure.

This part of your case can be just as important as being able to tell your story to the court.

“How” – All personal injury lawsuits in Indiana are started by the filing, with the proper court, of a written summary that outlines all four ‘elements’ of your claim. This document is called a “complaint”.

“When” – In Indiana, you must file your complaint within two years of the date of the events that caused your injury or harm. You must not sit on your rights, because this two-year statute of limitations blocks cases from being filed after two years from the accident. Some rules might create a shorter deadline to act.

“Where” – Your complaint must be filed with an appropriate trial-level court that is located in the county in Indiana where the defendants’ harmful actions occurred. Depending upon the nature of your injuries, and the other relevant circumstances of your case, determining where to file can be complicated.

Keep in mind that once you have filed your complaint in the proper court, you will have taken only the first (but most-important) step in holding your defendant(s) accountable, and in securing compensation from them for the harm(s) they have caused.

In Indiana, a personal injury lawsuit, and its final resolution, usually proceeds as follows:

Filing of the Complaint 

This step may, depending upon the circumstances, require weeks of advance preparation, while your indianapolis personal injury attorney analyzes the facts, gathers important evidence, identifies all potential defendants, ascertains all relevant procedural requirements, drafts the complaint, goes over it with you for accuracy and completeness, and, makes arrangements serving the defendant with a copy.

Preliminary Motions 

Defendants will often respond to a complaint by denyuing the allegations or their involvement. All such arguments are resolved through preliminary motions, which the court must decide before you can begin “Discovery”.

Discovery 

“Discovery” is a process where each party finds out what issues need to be decided by a judge or jury. Discovery can take a long time, because it involves both written exchanges of information, and ‘depositions.’ Depositions are like testimoiny that is recorded before trial even begins. Discovery reduces the amount of time a court must devote to a trial by eliminating undisputed issues. It also encourages settlement because it causes each side to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their cases.

Settlement

In Indiana, the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits settle before trial, often during Discoery. If and when your defendant(s) make an offer of settlement, your indianapolis car accident attorney will have lots of comparative data to help you evaluate whether such offer is fair and just.

Trial 

If the parties cannot settle, a trial will be held. The trial may take several days, depending upon the circumstances, and could require the live testimony, in court, of multiple fact and/or ‘expert’ witnesses. Expert witnesses are usually required, for example, to demonstrate your loss of earning power resulting from harm caused by defendant(s). Expert witnesses (and trials) are expensive, but your share of such expenses will be advanced by us until there is a settlement or an award

Appeal(s) 

If your case goes to trial, and there is an award with which the defendant disagrees, on a legal basis, the defendant may have a right to appeal. If the defendant does appeal, that can delay the delivery to you and your attorney of the compensation and/or reimbursement of expense to which you are otherwise entitled.

Even if you were in a “simple” auto accident, there may be complications in your case that you do not have experience with or damages you do not now you can claim. An experienced attorney can help answer your questions and fight your case for you.

Author: Roland Ellwood

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